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Almost 70,000 sign Stop Arming Israel campaign, as ministers come under increased pressure to act


‘We’re supporting this important case because of the UK’s refusal to abide by its international legal obligations and suspend arms transfers to Israel.’

Trade unionist arms factory protest Israel

Newly released government figures show that between the Hamas attack on October 7 and May 31, the UK issued more than 100 arms export licences to Israel.

The figures, which were disclosed by the business department in response to heightened parliamentary scrutiny, found that out of the 108 licenses issued, 37 were classified as military and 63 as non-military, which may include telecommunications equipment intended for use by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

The data shows that during the period, no arms export licence application was rejected or revoked. In December, April, and May, three separate decisions were made by ministers to reject calls to suspend arms to Israel. Ministers claim that such decisions are consistent or in line with legal advice.

But multiple campaign groups and international bodies claim that Israel’s use of military equipment in Gaza, which has killed more than 36,700 Palestinians since October 7, risks breaching international humanitarian law. Two leading human rights organisations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have announced their intention to join a judicial review claim regarding arms sales. This claim has been initiated by the Global Legal Action Network and Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group.

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s chief executive, said: “We’re supporting this important case because of the UK’s refusal to abide by its international legal obligations and suspend arms transfers to Israel.

“There’s a mountain of evidence showing that Israeli forces are committing war crime after war crime in Gaza, going back well before last October.”

Yasmine Ahmed, the director of UK Human Rights Watch, said that the right way to approach Israel’s commitment to “comply with IHL [international humanitarian law) is not by reference to Israel’s subjective interpretation of its compliance with IHL, but by an objective interpretation of what IHL actually requires.”

Oxfam has accused the UK government of being complicit in the catastrophe in Gaza by continuing to sell arms to Israel. The charity has written an open letter to the Trade Secretary and Foreign Secretary, urging the government to stop arming Israel.

“Together we are urging you to immediately halt arms licences and exports to the Government of Israel. This is just one crucial step towards helping to secure a permanent and immediate ceasefire for all Palestinians and Israelis,” the letter states.

The open letter, calling for an end to arms sales, and for an immediate, permanent ceasefire, has been signed by almost 70,000 people.

On June 3, activists dropped a banner from Westminster Bridge calling on the Labour leader Keir Starmer to commit to ending arms sales to Israel, if he becomes prime minister.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign Director, Ben Jamal, called on Starmer “to make clear if he takes international law seriously. If he does, then the course of action is clear – a Labour government would end arms sales to Israel.”

“No ethical or principled government would continue to supply arms to a genocidal state,” said Jamal.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward



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